The Houston Rockets have traded former top-five draft pick Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday.
In return, the Blazers will send two future second-round draft picks and the draft rights to two foreign players, Wojnarowski reported.
The Rockets' move could be a prelude to a run at free-agent center Dwight Howard. Since late May, the Rockets had reportedly been trying to trade Robinson, the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, to clear cap space for Howard. Clearing Robinson's salary would reportedly give them enough space to offer Howard a maximum contract. With this trade, the Rockets didn't take on any new 2013-14 salary obligations.
The trade also comes on a night when the Rockets are meeting with Howard shortly after the start of free agency commences at midnight. According to multiple reports, Howard is unlikely to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, despite the fact that they can offer him more money and a longer contract.
The 22-year-old Robinson averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season with both the Rockets and Sacramento Kings. With the Blazers, he could serve as a young big man the team can develop alongside center LaMarcus Aldridge.
Houston has traded Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers, league source tells Y! Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Portland will send Houston two future second-round picks and the draft rights to two foreign players, league sources tells Y! — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013